This electric trike was recently purchased by a WWU staff member to replace his car. He commutes to work from Ferndale. It takes him half the amount of time that it took with his non-electric bike.
Giovanna is a student who hosted a Viking eBike during spring quarter. This will be the last rider post for the Viking eBike Pilot Project. We are working in our final report and will post it in a future blog post.
“I was so impressed with this bike! I was able to ride easily all around Bellingham including up Alabama Hill to my house. During the time that I had the bike, I was struck with how few protected bike lanes there are in Bellingham. We have such wide streets and ample street parking that we should be able to easily redirect traffic and install inexpensive bike lanes so people feel more comfortable riding around town. I hope by the time I can afford an e-bike of my own protected bike lanes in Bellingham will be a reality! More folks should have access to this safe, reliable, clean, and convenient mode of transportation. I hope Western purchases more e-bikes in the future and maintains a fleet for student use!”
Hello my name is Justin Miller I am 26 years old and I really like to ride bikes. No really, I love it, my entire life I rode bikes with my brothers, my cousins, my friends, if the sun was out, chances are I was on a bike. Sadly, after 5 years in the United States Marine Corps my knees were less then able to bear the strain and I was left with a 60% disability rating. For a couple years after I got out I didn’t really do anything, I stagnated, I’d stay inside on sunny days because I just knew if I went for a run, or a jog, or a walk I’d end up paying for it with days of relentless knee pain. Then one day my wife told me about the Viking E-Bike program, she said that I should apply and after a few reminders (thanks Elsa), I did. I’ve always wanted an e-bike but they are a little out of my price range and I was never sure if my knees could handle it. I ended up not getting it winter quarter (which was a blessing in disguise) and was selected to get my bike in Spring, I was giddy. This bike really changed my life, every chance I could get I was out the door and on my bike. My favorite was the weekends though, I’d wake up, have a cup of coffee and be out the door. I explored everywhere I could, I found trails and parks that I never knew existed, and when I wasn’t exploring I was just riding it for the fun of it, drifting from park to park, stopping occasionally to set up my hammock, it was the good life. These fun days were the minority however, as I am a full time college student. To say this bike helped my academics would be quite the understatement. I’m pretty lazy, and when I get the urge to so something I need to do it right that instant. With my majestic electronic pony I was able to get to school as soon as I got that urge, it gave me a means to do the things that I needed to do. I used it to go get groceries, ride to the library to study, or just get to class, the level of mobility that it gave me was amazing, and all without driving my car. During the entirety of Spring quarter I put over 500 miles on it and I really think it contributed quite a bit to me getting the grades that I did. I would like to thank everyone from the Viking E-Bike program for allowing me this wonderful opportunity!
Jessica is a student at Western, and she was the last person to check out a Viking eBike for a short term loan. Check out what she has to say about her e-biking experience.
As soon as I test rode the Viking eBike at orientation I knew I had to get my hands on one! Even though that meant that borrowing it for three days or so would be such a tease, because the bike itself is so great! Bellingham has quite the versatile terrain to ride on and the e-bike outdid itself every time! I live on the south side of campus and getting to class was a breeze when I was running late and even when I wanted to go to Boulevard Park and come back up Fairhaven – I had no trouble. When it came time to drop the bike back off, it was so bittersweet. But truly, what a great program to create awareness of this sustainable transportation option.
As the Viking eBike program comes to a close here at Western’s Sustainable Transportation office, we would like to recap the event we hosted on May 31 for those that could not attend. On the morning of the 31st, we hosted the Viking eBike Wrap Up Party to share with the University our findings from the past two years. We were thrilled to have faculty, staff, and students join us for this event and to take part in the discussion that naturally flowed out of our presentation. To us, that was deeply rewarding and validating that we are not the only ones who care about integrating this sustainable technology into our lives.
Other highlights from our event was in sharing our results. Much of our research gathering was qualitative, as is demonstrated in our eBike rider blog posts. We believe these stories go a long ways towards people understanding and adopting such modes of transportation into their lives.
|“It’s incredibly useful to have 10 weeks to ride and evaluate an electric bike”
– Howard Muhlberg, University Residence staff
“I felt like a kid again. I couldn’t wipe the ear to ear grin off my face. I felt as though I could go anywhere.”
– Aliina Lahti, WWU student
Of course, we also collected quantitative data, as well. The table below demonstrates many of the main data points we focused on. Personally, I am stunned that our riders collectively rode approximately 7,000 miles over the course of this program! We calculated that’s the distance between Bellingham, USA and Lima, Peru! Now that’s a ride.
Results as of June 5, 2018
|Staff, Faculty Oriented||108|
|Short Term eBike Loans||54|
|Total Miles Ridden||6,830|
|Dept. Car Trips Eliminated||116|
|Impact On Emissions||6,108 lbs CO2 avoided|
Our thanks goes out to all of the people who participated in our program from the students who jumped on their very first eBike, to the University’s departmental directors who have seen just how valuable the addition of eBikes are to their office. A special thanks goes out to Gary Malik at ATUS who spoke at the presentation with us about his personal and professional experience with Viking eBike. Thanks Gary!
We have a few more blog posts in us yet. Check back in over the next couple weeks as we post the final rider stories from our last eBike riders of the Viking eBike program.
It’s not often that we’ll get a rider like Western student Sean Dever who is equally as passionate about biking as he is about understanding the electrical mechanics that go into electric bikes. We appreciate the enthusiasm, advice, and reality checks Sean offers in his assessment of the Viking eBike and its incorporation into his life this Spring quarter.
Here’s what he has to say:
“First of all, thanks so much to everyone involved in this project, it has been a really awesome experience and a great opportunity to learn about eBikes firsthand. I’m a Western student studying electrical engineering and a bit of a nerd-type so I was super excited about being able to ride around on something that I could also study the mechanics of. I’m even designing an electric bike for my senior project!
Here’s a few things I’ve learned since I’ve had the bike:
- The “speed limit” (so to speak) for electric bikes in Washington is 20mph. After a rider reaches this speed, the motor must no longer assist the rider. Therefore, a legal electric bicycle must include speedometer which continuously interacts with the motor via an on-board microcontroller. The microcontroller also continuously updates the LCD display and controls the amount of power the batteries deliver to the motor. On June 7th, a new law will pass which will increase the speed limit to 28mph. The law also decreases the maximum allowed motor power from 1kW to 750W, so getting the bike up to 28mph on an uphill slope should be quite the challenge for engineers with the decreased power.
- Some intersections have bike detectors in the pavement, and some don’t. I’ve been in a few situations when I’ve been studying on campus late at night and subsequently rode home (I live across the freeway) and been stuck trying to cross the Samish bridge until a car comes (if you find yourself in this situation, hit the “push-to-walk” button at the crosswalk and the light will change!).
- Ebikes majorly spoil you. I rode my old street bike to campus the other day just to feel the difference and I stopped after a few blocks to check if something was wrong because it felt so sluggish!
- The biggest benefit eBikes have over normal bikes is their ability to accelerate quickly, especially when you’re in a traffic lane and there are cars behind you. I’ve become much more confident riding in traffic on the eBike, not to mention I feel much more polite to the cars around me since I rarely hold anyone up.
My favorite part about riding the bike to campus is that I regularly will start my commute behind a WTA bus and invariably beat it going UP Bill McDonald pkwy. I could keep going but I think I’ll leave it at that for now. Thanks again to the office of sustainability and all the people involved in the project for the awesome opportunity!”
Thank you, Sean!
The British Medical Journal has released a study documenting the health and transportation habits of British citizens. They found an overwhelming correlation between those who regularly bicycle to work and their avoidance of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Their conclusion reads, “Cycle commuting was associated with a lower risk of CVD, cancer, and all cause mortality. Walking commuting was associated with a lower risk of CVD independent of major measured confounding factors. Initiatives to encourage and support active commuting could reduce risk of death and the burden of important chronic conditions.”
It should be noted that the many circumstances and lifestyle factors cannot be fully controlled for in such an experiment. It could be that those who are bicycle commuting also live in neighborhoods that are generally healthier, safer, and closer to their place of work. Our team is always looking to promote cycling as an option for people, though these encouragements must be based in the complicated reality of people’s diverse lives. We are, however, pleased to see that cycling does indeed contribute to one’s health and avoidance of disease!
Western’s Facilities Development and Capital Budget office is our latest University partnership. FDCB has been quite busy these days with projects all over campus, including the newly remodeled Carver Gymnasium and the construction of the new AS Bookstore and Multi-Cultural Center. We were thankful that they gave us a little bit of their time last week so that we could train up nine of their staff on our electric bikes. Because their office is located a couple blocks south of campus, their trips to projects and meetings on campus can be just far enough to discourage walking. Driving can be a hassle for such a short distance, because parking is not always near their destination and then they still have to walk to their destination. With our eBikes, parking is never an issue and most buildings on campus have bike parking right next to them, so riding a bike is more efficient than driving to campus. Couple that with a peaceful ride on some forested roads and you’ve got yourself a nice outing.
As our program wraps up here in a couple months, we’d like to thank the other University offices that have participated in our project. To date, the Viking eBike program has partnered with: Huxley College, Facilities Management, 32nd Street Offices, Viking Union, Academic Technology and User Services, and finally Facilities Development and Capital Budget.
And, if you’re not at FDCB and still want to ride, just remember that you can still come by our office and check out the short-term loaner Viking eBike.
Well, the office is filling up with eBikes and that can only mean one thing: less bikes on the road! 🙁
It also means that another Winter quarter rides has returned their bike. Howard Muhlberg, a Western staff member with ResTek, has been our single non-student rider this quarter. Even though the Sustainable Action Fund grant is student funded, we decided long ago that the Viking eBike program should be available to all within the campus community. By broadening our pool of riders we are able to source varied experiences and now that Howard has returned his eBike to the office he’s passed along his quarterly wrap-up. Here he is:
“I can’t believe it’s been 10 weeks!
This is the 5th and last post in my serieson my experience with the Viking E-Bikes program, offered by my employer, Western Washington University, a program promoting electric bicycles as a sustainable transportation alternative.
As I mentioned in my first post in the series, the program provides participants with a loaner e-bike, specifically the eProdigy Jasper pictured here, for the length of a 10-week academic term, asking only that the participants write a little about their experience, to be shared on the Rider Stories page of their website.
In my 3rd post, I made a simple Good and Bad list, with my findings up to that point, and as promised, here are my updated and final observations:
- Staci at Earl’s Bike Shop — the shop contracted to perform maintenance on the Viking E-Bikes — is awesome! When I needed to return the bike a second time, with suspicions that the calibration was off, Staci offered to pick the bike up at my home, which was a huge gift. As mentioned, with the bike being so heavy, I’m unable to put it on my car’s bike rack, and also unable to get it in the car, and so I would otherwise have had to ride the bike to the shop and then get a ride home. Staci then delivered to bike back to my home when the work was complete. Like I said: awesome!
- As for the calibration, it turns out that this was indeed the problem. Somehow, the bike’s computer had been switched from MPH (miles per hour) to KMH (kilometers per hour) and this threw everything off. I don’t fully understand the technology, but I suspect that if the bike is set to KMH the sensors on the brakes and gears need to be calibrated differently than if the bike is set to MPH. Sure enough, the first ride out once the bike was recalibrated to MPH was a dramatically better experience, from shifting gears and power assist levels, to using the throttle.
- The power assist is simply exactly what I need in order to continue to be a bicycle commuter, and I REALLY want to be a bicycle commuter, as I feel SO much better leaving the car at home and reducing my carbon footprint. As mentioned previously, the 5-mile each way commute, with hills in both directions, would be prohibitive without the power.
- As also mentioned previously, several other features of the bike were very much appreciated: the upright riding position, the suspension, the fenders, and the built in rear rack with provided pannier were all great.
- The battery, while unfortunately heavy, was more than adequate for my daily commute. I suspect that I could even get two whole days use out of it before recharging, but I opted to just bring the battery in every night and charge it.
- Jillian at Viking E-Bikes is awesome! She gracefully put up with my complaints about the bike and was very responsive, making arrangements for getting the bike to and from the shop in a very timely manner.
- The Viking E-Bikes program is a GREAT idea! It’s incredibly useful to have 10 weeks to ride and evaluate an electric bike, especially considering that it’s several thousand dollars to buy one. Normally you’ll get one or two test rides. Getting to take the bike home every night allowed me to experience the entire commute routine many times, in various weather conditions, and I even was able to fine tune my route in order to reduce time spent in traffic.
- The eProdigy Jasper is simply not the bike for me.
- At nearly 55 pounds, I found it really cumbersome to move around; I was unable to put it on a rack on either my car or a bus and unable to put it in my car
- Power assist was needed on the flats to compensate for the weight, and I could only ride without any power assist at all when descending a hill
- I have concerns about the weight as a safety issue: in a situation where a sudden danger presents itself, it’s hard to imagine being able to maneuver the bike as nimbly as can sometimes be needed in order to avoid accident and injury
- While it is true that I enjoyed the upright riding position of this bike, which is partially the result of the bike’s geometry, I do suspect that the geometry plus the weight contributes to the overall clumsy experience riding, that feeling of a lack of nimbleness that evoked safety concerns as I mentioned. I’ll need to test this theory when I test ride other e-bikes.
- Love that the front headlight is powered by the bike’s battery, though the mount isn’t well-designed. The screw where the light pivots comes loose very easily due to vibrations of the bike.
- Also, it seems silly that a rear light is not provided and powered also by the bike’s battery: I REALLY don’t like burning through AAA batteries.
So, I handed my bike in this morning and I was a little sad to do it
It didn’t help one bit that this had to be done on the first day of spring, as the number of rainy days decrease, the daylight hours increase, trees are exploding with buds and blossoms…
But, I’ll probably be buying my own e-bike soon, so hopefully I’ll be back in the saddle before too long.”
Thanks for riding with us, Howard!
Till next time.